A man is required to make choices, and live with it. If one signed for the Army, he obliged himself to be bound for that particular life, the life of the soldier. No one was interested in knowing whether his choice had made him “happy”. The bed you've made, and all that.
To be able to make choices and live with them is an elementary mark of the adult and, for what interests us today, the man. The man who chose wife and family cannot – if he is a man – go back on his commitment because he is not happy, or does not like his wife after all, or married life isn't what it was supposed to be. You have made your choice. Live with it like a man.
The more strongly this applies to priests. The one who has received the Sacrament of Holy Orders has said to the world that he wants to die a priest. This is what a grown man has decided to do with his life. After the fact, whether this priest is happy or unhappy is neither here nor there. He is now a priest for life, and that's that. A man has made a choice.
More and more often you notice that men who want to renege their commitment taken as adults will find excuses to do so. They are leaving the habit because the Church is this or that; their bishop is this or that; their situation is this or that. What they are saying, is that they are whining children unworthy of be considered manly, much less pious.
They will tell you that they have changed; that their circumstances have changed; that their bishops, their pope, the planet have changed. Guess what? We change all the time; our circumstances never remain the same; bishops and popes come and go (let's hope this one goes fast…). What always remains the same is a promise, a solemn vow, made forever.
They will tell you that they have lost the faith; that they never had it; or that it has evolved. Little capricious children throwing a tantrum and declaring they will now go away with the ball, because the game is tough.
Men stick to their commitment. Accept a nagging wife like you accept hail. Make their lives work according to the choices they have made, like men.
“I would not have taken the habit if I had known Margie” is no argument. You have taken the habit, which entails the solemn decision that there will ever be any Margie. “My bishop is a pedophile” does not count, because a pedophile bishop does not authorise one to renege on his vow. “I have lost the faith” does not count, because the priest who loses the faith must keep schtum and pray all the time that he may, with God's grace, find it again.
But truly, behind these claim is often a very simple claim: “I am a small child. I do not want to be held to the standard of a man. I will throw a tantrum, seek excuses, and invent all sort of grievances to justify with you that I am a selfish boy bound for hell”.
Society does not teach anymore a man to be a man. It does not expect anymore that observance be given to a solemn promise, just because it was made. The husband will leave his wife with the extremely childish claim of a “right to happiness” that firstly was never there in the first place, and secondly will prove, as always in life before that moment, a rather elusive goal after the euphoria of the first times.
We live in a society plagued by men-boys. They will tell you that they want to eat their own solemn vow, and will expect, even demand, your approval. There goes a wife. There goes a clerical habit. There goes, alas, at times even a child.
Men, and boys. From the way they live with their commitments you will recognise them.
This is the video of an old man arriving to the airport in jeans. He is a Prince of the Church, and is now (literally) going to be made a Cardinal.
It had to happen. The stupid pauperism, the vulgarity, the utter irreligiousness of our times required than even a soon to be made Cardinal cannot bear to travel in his clerical clothes. It must be jeans.
The cafeteria Catholics will be impressed. If a Bishop, soon to be Cardinal, does not care a straw (another expression comes to mind) for the rules obliging him to wear his clericals – a basic rule of decency, and small testimony of his being a priest for all those around him – then why would the simple layman feel obliged by the much more onerous rules on contraception, abortion, divorce, fornication, adultery.
No: as the nutcases at NCR say, this is not Cardinal Burke.
This also paves the way for a Pope in jeans. When this happens, idiots worldwide will hail it as a marked improvement compared to the former Popes who insisted in dressing in white.
After that, I suggest Bermudas and Hawaiian shirts.
Cardinal Maradiaga would be delighted.
Rorate Caeli has an interesting article mentioning Cardinal Siri’s take on the abandonment of the cassock.
I have written about it in the past, but would like to make some points again:
1) It is not true that the habit doesn’t count. The habit counts a lot. The habit reminds the priest all the time of who he is. This happens by all kinds of “uniform”, at the point that “to wear the uniform” is strictly identified with, say, military identity. You are, therefore you wear, and when a priest tries to look as if he wasn’t one, I wonder how much he wants to be one.
2) The clerical habit (specifically: the cassock; the real, authentic clerical garb of the Catholic priest) is also a form of social control for the priest. If a priest has the habit of going out without his, well, habit, and no one really notices, it will be much easier for him to go unnoticed in the wrong places, or to frequent the wrong people (like prostitutes, or so-called “gay saunas”). If the public expects to see him in cassock everytime he is seen at all, all this will become a much more difficult exercise, and in case of discovery there will be no defence possible:whoever sees the priest in “plain clothes” in another part of town will have strong reasons to suspect the man is up to no good.
3) The clerical garb (best of all: the cassock) reminds everyone (not only the priest) that his wearer is detached from the world. The priest wanting to be seen as “one of the others” is ipso facto betraying his role as a priest, even in those cases (which I assume will be a minority) in which his refusal to wear clerical garb is due to a well-intentioned, if ill-thought pastoral zeal. The priest is not of this world. He is there to remind us of the other one. The more he identifies himself with this life, the less will be able to do his job concerning the next one.
Not only must the Church insist on the priests wearing clerical garbs, but if you ask me the Church should insist on the Priest wearing the cassock whenever practicable. Don Camillo rode a bicycle and a light motorcycle with a cassock, and it worked rather well.
Besides, no priest is so despised as the one who wouldn’t want to be one.
I have written in the last weeks (and before) rather often about strange liberal creatures with clear difficulties in reconciling themselves with Catholicism.
Their problem seems apparent – I would say, it is made by them very apparent – by the inability of these chaps to dress like ordained people. If they have an obligation to dress like clerics, they seem blissfully unaware of it. Let us see some example of this “liberal fashion”.
This is bishop Nourrichard, he of the Thiberville scandal
You can note from this photo that the man likes yellow, and green; that he doesn’t look particularly sober ( an impression of mine, for sure; pastis is not very strong after all…..) and that he has not been blessed with a familiar environment stressing the value of elegance or, at least, basic decency. Congratulations to bishop Nourrichard for the “country bumpkin” prize.
The next one is bishop William Morris, he of Toowoomba
This man was clearly raised up in a more tasteful environment. The shirt is well pressed, the tie well matched, the colours are elegant and dignified. Particularly so, because the sign of the Vatican boot on his backside is not visible on this picture.
The problem is that by looking at the photo you’d never say that he is, of all things, a Catholic bishop; which is, clearly, what he himself wants.
Don’t worry, though: having being kicked out by the Holy Father he is now a retired bishop anyway. If he is defrocked – as he should – he’ll have even more scope for his well-pressed, tasteful shirts. Or perhaps he will then decide to follow his vocation and will dress like a Morris dancer.
Next in line is our “priestesses subito” soi-disant Catholic theologian, Hans Kueng.
Herr Kueng prefers a sober, traditional style, with a white shirt complemented by a regimental-type tie and a sober London smoke jacket. This would be very fine, if said Herr Kueng were not a religious. The problem with the way he dresses is that he is clearly trying to let you forget that he is a Catholic priest. A circumstance which he has, very probably, long forgotten himself.
Dulcis in fundo, the hero of the hour; the idol of worldwide pedophiles; the staunch defender of sodomy with children; the -apparently – former Dutch Salesian Superior Herman Spronk.
Note the inquisitive, attentive, piercingly liquid eye. This is a typical expression that once would have been defined “tired and emotional” but we today, unaccustomed to the niceties of the past, simply call drunk. These expressive facial traits – you see in them a clear sympathy for the tragedy of good men, cruelly separated from the children they love by a ruthless Vatican hierarchy and oppressive superiors in Rome – are aptly matched to a factory-worker casual jacket and a dark blue, probably rather coarse, shirt. We all know how much children love blue, and the casual dress is also clearly meant to avoid being intimidating. Sinite pargulos venire ad me is the extremely creepy message here.
These are all examples of liberals of various kind previously dealt with on this blog, the last three in the past couple of weeks.
Once again, it is clear that symbols have power, and that the way one chooses to follow regarding his exterior appearance often accurately reflects his interior world.
The religious habit has a powerful symbolic force. It is not surprising that those who betray the Church start by betraying the habit.